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3 science's at GCSE - D of Ed guidance?

(85 Posts)
dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 13:39:31

Hi

my son is about to choose his GCSE's and is keen to do 3 separate sciences, rather than the combined science course. However, the school only allows a limited number of children do this (I think this is because they don't have enough places or teachers).

Are there any regulations that i can quote them to encourage them to accept my son? I seem to remember reading somewhere that a school has to provide language GCSEs if a child wants them and was wondering if there's anything similar for science

hatesponge Sat 04-Feb-12 13:52:25

no idea as to the answer sorry but I will be watching this with interest - my son can only do what is referred to as 'triple science' -there are no separate subjects for any of the children at his school.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Feb-12 13:53:41

I think the rules are that every child who achieves level 6 or above in Science at KS3 has the entitlement to study triple science at GCSE.

This quotes the relevant government document.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 13:54:10

Have you had a chat with his science teachers about his performance in Science? I would be very reluctant to go against the school advice. Why does he want to do separate science? What are his current levels in Science?

A friend of mine did triple Science last year. He got A* for the dual award part of the course, and would have ended up with two A*s; but the third module is more challenging (or maybe he stopped putting in the effort, who knows) and he did badly in the third unit. Which brought his grades down to (I think) AAB. In terms of uni applications and 'very able' programme at 6th form, he would have been better off with the two A*s.

My son is doing triple Science and he says there are too many students on the course who are not particularly able or passionate about Science. (His school doesn't select for triple, but leaves it open to all.) They teach dual award separately and he prefers his 'top set' dual award class, to the separate science triple class.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Feb-12 13:54:26

Triple science is the three separate sciences at GCSE.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 13:57:15

Yes, I know. Did my post not make sense? (It is complicated, I know.)

hatesponge Sat 04-Feb-12 13:58:44

I see - when I was at school the less academic children did 'combined' science which I assumed this was. I don't quite understand how it works out from a timetabling point of view though as on DSs option sheet triple science is a 'single' option same as French, IT, etc - hence the confusion on my part.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 14:00:58

At the school I work at they select students for triple/separate sciences; and they have to have achieved minimum of L6 in Science and Maths by the end of KS3.

(They are taught in a separate class/set with a specialist for all their science lessons. Dual award scientists do not necessarily have a specialist for each subject.)

At my son's school he has 5 lessons a week for the dual award (units/modules 1 and 2), taught by a specialist, in ability sets. They do a block of (say) Biology, then Chemistry, then Physics. Mod 1 at the end of yr10, Mod2 at the end of yr11.

Then in addition he has a separate sciences class for 3 lessons a week (units/module 3s) taught by a specialist. The exams are at the end of yr11.

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:01:42

he had 8 different teachers for science last year and it was so bad that the school was unable to actually provide me with any written report for this subject at all. He is a bright boy and is in the top set for maths, but his previous school (ie last year) estimated that he would get a 'c' at GCSE for science. so yes i will be discussing his performance with the school, but i think its currently a bit clouded by this and the fact that they only have limited places.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Feb-12 14:03:08

Sorry roisin, my post was aimed at hatesponge not you, but your post appeared in the meantime!

hatesponge, I think that is probably because all students sit double science so that doesn't appear on the options sheet. The option for triple science is the extra science added onto the compulsory double science, rather than all the science that will be taken by that student.

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:03:24

roisin - when is KS3 - what age?

LondonMother Sat 04-Feb-12 14:05:28

I think noblegiraffe might have been correcting hatesponge [fine set of names there!].

This is how I think it works.

Triple science:
Biology module 1 + Biology module 2 + Biology module 3 = Biology GCSE.
Chemistry module 1 + Chemistry module 2 + Chemistry module 3 = Chemistry GCSE.
Physics module 1 + Physics module 2 + Physics module 3 = Physics GCSE.

Very rare to get the opportunity nowadays to do one or two of those and not the third.

Double science:
Biology module 1 + Chemistry module 1 + Physics module 1 = Integrated Science GCSE.
Biology module 2 + Chemistry module 2+ Physics module 2 = Additional Science GCSE.

My son's school said that (a) double science was OK for those planning to do science A levels and (b) two A*s would look better than 3As/Bs (as Roisin said above).

hatesponge Sat 04-Feb-12 14:08:43

noble/roisin, thanks for the clarification, I have been pondering over how it works for days (and concerned over the unfairness of DS doing 3 more subjects than others...!)

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 14:09:54

Dreamingofsun - KS3 traditionally ends at the end of yr9 (after 3 years in secondary school, age 13/14).

But some schools now choose to end KS3 at the end of yr8.

Blimey, education is complicated in this country, isn't it?!

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 14:10:33

Noblegiraffe - Ok, I understand now that you were speaking to hatesponge! grin

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:19:17

roisin - complicated even more by the fact that we have middle schools here - so he's only just started at secondary and is 13./14. looking at the report i did get last year he got 5A - ie in the year he was 12/13 years old.

so is there an argument that as he should get level 6 at the normal KS3 age (ie this year) he should be able to do triple science?

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:34:16

noble - your link has some really interesting information

what I'm not clear on is whether this is policy or something the school has to adhere to. Does anyone know? do they have to offer triple science to a pupil who gets level 6 in yr9?

thanks for your help everyone and for such prompt replies

andisa Sat 04-Feb-12 17:46:17

I think you have to weigh up what is the best course option in your school.

My son chose Triple science as the more studious pupils chose it - lots more Science lessons. His teachers were not overly enthusiastic about him taking it as at the time he was not a top scientist of the school.

However, he followed his instinct that the triple route was better for him and is on target for two A* and one A - now one of the top scientists!

In my son's school the best Science teachers or most specialized were put into the triple option as most pupils go on to A' level.

In my experience, as a teacher, Science education can be patchy as keeping or recruiting good staff is a challenge for most schools. My son was lucky with his staff. If it was a bad department, he would have done double Science and Geography.

Niceweather Sat 04-Feb-12 19:17:05

Forgive my ignorance but why do they need to be Level 6 in maths to do the triple science? Do they need to be good at maths for the physics? My son is really into science and already thinks he wants to do the triple science but he struggles a bit with his maths. He's only in Year 7 so there's a long way to go.

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 21:15:10

niceweather - if you look at the link and google the doc it says if you have level 6 in science then you should be able to do triple science. its not maths - though some of the material suggests that if you are good at maths it should help your science.

andisa - yes our experience too - 8 teachers in 1 year says it all i think. how do you tell if they are competant science teachers at the school - i have to confess i have major reservations about the school, compared to my oldest sons. i'm sure the teachers don't see me as the easiest of parents as i tend to challenge things, but i can see falling out with them would not help my son

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 21:25:18

It was me that said that at my school they recommend L6 in Maths as well as L6 in Science, for selection for triple science.

I guess they do it because the Maths will help the Science. But also L6 Maths by the end of yr9 is really not that difficult; it is the 'standard' that Govt expect children to achieve by that point. So if they're not then Maths is a particular weakness, something that could hold them back with their Science. (Science course involves quite a lot of handing data, interpreting graphs, drawing graphs and charts, making calculations, etc.)

(In my boys' school some bright students achieve L6 by the end of the first term in yr7 and L8 by the end of yr8, sometimes even in yr7.)

This year they are doing L6 papers at primary for brighter students aren't they?

babybouncer Sat 04-Feb-12 21:28:54

There may also be other slight complications as in my school the triple science kids get fewer maths lessons in order to fit in extra science lessons, therefore their maths ability is also key.

Personally, I went to a grammar school (selective not private) where all pupils did double science, including many who went on to do science subjects at A Level and university.

In my experience as a sixth form tutor, universities are not really interested in whether an applicant has double or triple, more what their GCSE average was and how they are doing in their specific A Levels.

Finally, the parents we 'know about' at our school - i.e. the ones who complain loudly and not always fairly - do tend to get what they want for their kids. So I wouldn't stop complaining if you feel strongly about something.

CustardCake Sat 04-Feb-12 22:36:30

It used to be that combined or double science wasn't an adequate enough introduction to A Level Physics or Chemistry. The jump for pupils who'd been made to do the double award was much greater (too great) than for those who'd done a triple science option at GCSE.
If your child wants to go onto do A Level Sciences, it is important to look into which GCSE course would be more challenging and a better starting point. Some schools offer the iGCSE in separate Sciences as it is considered to be the most academic one but only for children who are really serious about studying science in future. Invariably anything that involves higher levels of Physics (and to some extent Chemistry) will require a good grasp of mathematics as well. They go hand in hand at higher levels.

dreamingofsun Sun 05-Feb-12 10:37:56

thanks for your help everyone. i feel much more prepared when i go and see the teacher now.

Coconutty Sun 05-Feb-12 10:48:16

DS1 is in the top maths and science set in yr 9 and school are trying to push him into doing triple science rather than combined. He wouldnt mind doing combined + biology, but really doesnt want 11 science lessons a week, which triple would be.

Does it really matter do you think, if he does combined rather than triple? He doesnt know what career he wants yet, maybe architecture but def doesnt want to do science A level.

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